Catalysis 2024 Issue



Ni, mg/kg V, mg/kg Fe, wt%

Continuous Tria l led Interested


















Figure 2 Summary of Ecat contaminant trends

Figure 3 Interest in FCC co-processing

multi-pronged strategy employing specialty technologies and production processes to tune the zeolite stability and activity, catalyst porosity, matrix activity, and tolerance to contaminant poisons within the relatively strict property window for optimum fluidisation and in-unit retention. As refiners continue pushing the envelope on feedstock flexibility, it is important to implement catalyst technologies that mitigate the harmful effects of contaminant metals on performance. An analysis of Grace’s Ecat database, shown in Figure 2 , indicates refiners are processing increased amounts of opportunity feedstocks laden with iron and vanadium. In concert with these trends, Grace has recently unveiled two proprietary catalyst technologies, Midas Pro and Paragon catalysts. Built on the Midas platform, Midas Pro catalyst has been proven commercially to provide a baseline iron tolerance improvement, as well as a barrier to unexpected feed iron excursions in the FCC. Midas Pro catalyst improves iron tolerance through optimisation of matrix surface area and pore distribution. The proprietary Paragon catalyst is the culmination of significant R&D and manufacturing investment, applying vanadium trapping technology to the Midas platform, offering a synergistic effect for conventional metals trapping and iron tolerance. In addition to processing more challenging petroleum feedstocks, Grace has observed a steep increase from the industry in co-processing alternative feedstocks, including bio-based renewables and plastic waste oils (see Figure 3 ). These unconventional feedstocks pose new opportunities and challenges for the refining industry, and we are actively collaborating with refiners to minimise the risks and maxi - mise the value associated with such feeds. Our extensive testing facilities are instrumental in provid- ing our customers with an understanding of these uncon- ventional feedstocks. Detailed feedstock analysis, ACE unit testing, and circulating riser pilot plant testing are utilised to identify and mitigate challenges and operability con- cerns. Following these evaluations, refiners can more con - fidently engage in commercial FCC trials and continuous co-processing while implementing catalyst reformulations to maintain optimal operation. These unconventional feedstocks are often accompanied by contaminants and heteroatoms, which are not present in fossil feeds. The contaminants of interest vary significantly

by feed source but can be categorised as surface contami- nants and zeolite deactivators. This requires a deep under - standing of fluid catalytic cracking and catalyst technology to pioneer solutions that tackle the unique challenges posed by the unconventional contaminants in the next generation of feedstocks. These alternative feedstocks can also contain significant amounts of oxygen. Pilot plant and commercial observa - tions suggest that most of this oxygen is converted to water, CO, and CO 2 , which can pose challenges with water handling and amine scrubber systems. However, even trace amounts of oxygenates in sour water systems and LPG products can cause significant challenges downstream from the FCC. Grace’s proprietary Oxyburn additive represents the first step on a catalytic journey to reduce FCC product oxygenates and mitigate issues downstream from the FCC. This enables increased processing of renewable feedstocks in support of refiners’ sustainability goals while also limit - ing the need for capital solutions to address oxygenates. Presently, Grace is providing FCC catalyst and technical support to many FCCs in Europe and the Americas, which are steadily increasing renewable co-processing year over year. Additionally, refiners in the early stages of renewable feedstock co-processing are being supported. Overall, the future of the refining industry remains bright, but it will continue to be shaped by the healthiest and most strategic refiners. FCC operators that invest in technologies to increase feedstock flexibility will be the most resilient through the ongoing energy transition. OXYBURN, MIDAS, MIDAS Pro, and PARAGON are marks of W. R. Grace. Q What AI and data analysis techniques do catalyst and reactor technology developers offer refiners for higher yields while meeting near-zero emissions specifications? A Pierres-Yves Le Goff, Global Market Manager, Reforming & Isomerisation, pierre-yves.le-goff@axens. net and Philippe Mege, Digital Services Factory Manager,, Axens AI and data analysis techniques can analyse complex refinery processes to identify optimisation opportunities. They can predict optimal operating conditions and adjust


Catalysis 2024

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